Steve Thursby always wanted to be a farmer. “It’s how I grew up. It’s all I’ve known. That’s what our family does.”
But first, the Air National Guard
Before finding his place in agriculture, Steve followed in the footsteps of his older brother and joined the Air National Guard after graduating high school. Steve’s service took him to San Antonio for Basic Training, Wichita Falls to work on F16s, and Balad, Iraq, where he was deployed in the summer of 2006.
When he returned to the U.S., Steve enrolled in college to study agriculture science with an emphasis on agronomy. Steve spent the next four years simultaneously going to school while also serving one weekend a month and two weeks per year in order to earn a college degree and fulfill his commitment to serve.
Jump-start in agriculture
Upon returning to Illinois, he began his farming career by cash renting 160 acres, while also working as a Farm Loan Specialist for the USDA-Illinois Farm Service Agency (FSA), an off-farm job he has had for eight years.
Steve gained great insight on farming once he began working on his own farm, in addition to the perspective he gained through his FSA job. He said, “Growing up on a farm, you always thought you were a farmer. It’s easy to say, yeah I’m a farmer. I run the tractors and stuff. But, until you start cash renting your own farm, you don’t understand the finances and loans and all the other marketing and managerial items that go into farming, rather than just being told what ground to work.”
Ready to purchase land of his own
After renting land for a while, Steve decided that he was ready to purchase land of his own and turned to Farm Credit Illinois for support. Steve is the third generation out of four in his family to work with Farm Credit. “I was eligible for the beginning farmer program with the reduced interest rates and that helped me to be able to finance and purchase my first piece of farm real estate. It’s contiguous to the rest of the family farm, so that was a big milestone to secure it,” Steve said.
Steve attended Farm Credit’s July 2018 Farmer Veteran legislative fly-in Washington, D.C. For more information about Farm Credit’s support for veterans, please visit www.farmcredit.com/veterans.